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Broad alliance launched for PVC alternatives

BRAUNGART EPEA and CLASSEN Group aim to further establish CERAMIN®and other healthy living building materials

Kaisersesch/Hamburg, August 09, 2023. "PVC is not a material of the future and PVC production and use should be stopped yesterday rather than today". With this clear finding, Cradle-To-Cradle pioneer Prof. Dr. Michael Braungart introduces his interim report on the cooperation between BRAUNGART EPEA - Internationale Umweltforschung GmbH and the CLASSEN Group. Against the backdrop of the approaching PVC ban under the Green Deal and the REACH Regulation of the European Union, the focus is shifting to materials, products and processes that are suitable for the circular economy and are not harmful to humans or the environment. According to Braungart, the PVC-free material CERAMIN® developed by the CLASSEN Group is of outstanding interest to the entire flooring industry due to its recyclability and healthy living properties. To date, the construction industry and the market have still been supplied with PVC in design and vinyl flooring on a large scale. As part of a broad alliance, which in future will include other companies that also dispense with the use of PVC, the main aim is to further establish polypropylene (PP) as an equivalent, but above all healthy alternative to PVC. CERAMIN's® Cradle-To-Cradle certification, which has already been initiated, is a first step in this direction.

Bild: Sebastian Wendel, Céline Quervel, Prof. Braungart (v.l.n.r.)

Prof. Dr. Michael Braungart was awarded the Honorary Prize of the German Sustainability Award just last fall and has long been regarded as a thought leader in eco-design, waste avoidance and the circular economy. With his Environmental Protection Encouragement Agency (EPEA for short), founded more than 30 years ago, he co-founded the Cradle-To-Cradle concept with William McDonough. The concept includes a continuous and consistent cycle management. It describes the safe and basically infinite circulation of materials and nutrients in cycles. What for the biosphere means the biological decomposition of the individual product components that are returned to nature - as in complete composting, for example - means complete recycling into new products for industry and the technosphere. As a result, products and production processes should not only be less harmful to people and nature, but also have a positive effect.

Predictable PVC ban boosts search for alternatives

Braungart has long been concerned about harmful PVC. In a preliminary interim summary of the cooperation with the CLASSEN Group, he refers to all the facts already known about the toxicity for humans and the environment during production, use and disposal, as well as the enormous consumption of energy and resources and the almost impossible recycling of PVC. At the EU level, a ban on PVC in interior spaces has been under discussion at least since the publication of the Ramboll study in 2022. Not only for this reason, the search for alternatives that are not only pollutant-free but also completely recyclable is in full swing. The flooring industry is particularly affected by this. For Europe alone, approximately 190 million square meters of vinyl flooring containing PVC were produced in 2022. That's equivalent to about 32,000 soccer fields - year after year. About half of the approximately 1.2 million tons of material comes from China. Material whose subsequent disposal poses a variety of environmental and health risks. This documents the urgency of establishing alternative materials.

For this reason, Braungart is forging ahead with its cooperation with the CLASSEN Group, whose polypropylene-based CERAMIN® material meets all the requirements for establishing a suitable alternative to harmful PVC floor and wall coverings. Not only are products made of CERAMIN® at least equal in terms of material properties such as robustness, moisture resistance, design diversity and ease of processing, but unlike PVC they are completely safe for health and the environment, completely recyclable and consist to a high degree of PP recyclates already during production. For this reason, the products also have a much smaller carbon footprint and reduce energy consumption many times over through the use of recyclates in production.

Broad alliance to stop PVC use and open new markets

From the point of view of the parties involved, the aim of the strategic cooperation is not only to establish healthy CERAMIN® coverings in the construction and flooring industry. To this end, the CLASSEN Group will promote networking with other market partners, also with the support of Braungart EPEA. In addition, a broad alliance is to be forged, which is to be joined by other companies that have consciously decided or are deciding against the use of PVC applications. Braungart calls for "a rethinking of the use of PVC. The problems must be communicated and knowledge multiplied. Innovative solutions and alternatives, such as CLASSEN's products represent an important reference point in this process." According to his conviction, this requires "an association of players who are willing to ban PVC from their products, services and processes." Companies in the construction, electronics and packaging sectors are particularly in focus. "Since supply chains and the proliferation of PVC are global in scope, it seems beneficial to the cause to include global perspectives. With CLASSEN as the initiator of such a network, opportunities for new sales markets will open up," concludes Braungart.

"With the development of the CERAMIN® coverings, we have not only created a sustainable future perspective for our family business, but also an alternative and completely new perspective for the entire flooring industry thanks to our licensing business," outlines Céline Quervel, Marketing Manager of the CLASSEN Group, the future possibilities. "Cooperation with Braungart EPEA, other market partners, environmental and consumer protection organizations is therefore a very high priority for us.

You can download images here: https://cloud.classen.de/main.html?download&weblink=8f7d85f3354f6f05bc12e7dc8924e0d0&realfilename=Pressemitteilung$20-$20Allianz$20gegen$20PVC$20-$20Bildmaterial.zip

About BRAUNGART EPEA - International Environmental Research Ltd:

Since its foundation in 1987 in Hamburg by Prof. Dr. Michael Braungart, EPEA GmbH has developed into an international innovation partner for environmentally compatible products, processes, buildings and urban quarters. Our goal is to establish the Cradle to Cradle® design principle for the Circular Economy in all industrial sectors. In this way, we can support companies to get on the right track and be part of the change: from the molecular to the modular level, from the chemical to the city.

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